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So I used to be pretty wholly against this idea. I’m a traditionalist and for a very long time my notion that the groom should see the bride for the first time as she makes her way down the aisle was pretty set in stone. The groom in no way shape or form should see his bride before that sacred moment. But times they are a changin’… and so are my views on this. Mostly, I blame all of the amazing photographers who have documented this in the last year or so. There’s something magical in that very first look. A moment between only two people without all of the eyes of a roomful of guests. A moment that’s yours and yours alone. That moment where the bride just reaches out and touches her groom’s shoulder and he turns around…

It’s magic.
See for yourself…

Photo courtesy of Style Me Pretty

Laura and Mark’s first look…

Photo Courtesy of Randi Voss

Photo Courtesy of Randi Voss

Photo Courtesy of Randi Voss

Alison and Paul…

Photo Courtesy of Randi Voss

Photo courtesy of Randi Voss

Jessi & Benjamin…

Photo Courtesy of Randi Voss

Photo Courtesy of Randi Voss

What do you think?

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It’s a wrap. Chris and Jill’s beautiful wedding day arrived with fanfare, friends and was…  simply fabulous. This is the way that weddings should be. Simple, unique to you, with all the wonderful details that make it the most memorable of days. Much, much more to come on this wonderful lakeside wedding. Here’s just a little bit to check out in the meantime…

Celebrate we will..

Guests...

Beautiful bride

Tent

Yes… there are more.  I just couldn’t narrow them down. They’re just too beautiful. Here are some more FABULOUS photos from Rocco & Larah’s San Juan del Sur Nicaragua, wedding reception from Cindy Johnson

Reception- San Juan Del Sur

 

From the lovely bride…“Eventually we all went down to the restaurant for the reception, which featured seafood pasta, beef tenderloin, and grilled mahi-mahi.  We heard great speeches over both a champagne and tequila toast.”

 

Entering the Reception

 

Cigar Rolling and Tequila Shots

 

From the bride…“Then it was time for dancing!  I danced with my father to Guns N Roses Sweet Child Of Mine.  We topped off the night with non-stop dancing until finally I donned a white bikini, stripped down the groom, and most of the wedding party found themselves in the pool. 

“Overall, the wedding was a complete fairy-tale for us and our guests.  We were skeptical about a destination wedding in a developing country, but in the end we could never have done better in the US.  It was more magical and the staff at the resort did a better job than we ever imagined.  I would do it again in a heartbeat, and feel that our entire wedding was one of the highlight of my life so far!”

Reception

Scheming...

Reception

Water Dancing...

Into the Pool

Thank you again to Cindy Johnson for her AMAZING Photos! To check out more of her beautiful work check out her website!

Here are some more beautiful photos from Rocco & Larah’s San Juan del Sur Nicaragua paradise wedding, courtesy of the very talented Cindy Johnson

 

Rocco & Larah

From the beautiful bride… “At 5:00, it was time for the sunset ceremony on a deck overlooking the bay.  Our close mutual friends married us in a beautiful ceremony and then we all posed for group pictures as a guitar and violin duo serenaded us.  This was followed by cocktails as night fell.”

Rocco & Larah

Group Shot

This Real Wedding was sent to me from fabulous wedding photographer Cindy Johnson!   These are just some of the amazing photos from Rocco and Larah’s beautiful paradise wedding in San Juan, del Sur Nicaragua. Cindy also did up a killer video that I’m going to share with you too!

Rocco and Larah met in optometry school. So cute. While they were there, they took several trips to Nicaragua together for medical missions. Once they got engaged, they decided to return to the resort where they had spent so much time in the past, to get married!

Photo Courtesy of Cindy Johnson Photography

From the lovely bride… “Our wedding in San Juan del Sur Nicaragua was hailed by most guests as truly the “best wedding ever.”  One guest even commented that it seemed as though we were all in a movie. The week of  February 14,  71 guests, including ourselves traveled to a small fishing town in Southwest Nicaragua, near the Costa Rican border.  Most of us stayed at Piedras y Olas Resort, one of nicest resorts in the entire country.  The resort features private villas built into a hill, overlooking the entire town and the bay.”

Photo Courtesy of Cindy Johnson Photography

From the bride… “The festivities began with a welcome dinner at a local restaurant on the beach on Friday night. On Saturday morning I hosted a spa luncheon and both mothers,  my sister in-laws and matron of honor had fun getting mani/pedis and our hair done while sipping mimosas. In the afternoon, Rocco and I spent an hour on the beach with our photographer taking fun photos on the beach and in the local streets.”

Photo's courtesy of Cindy Johnson

Rocco and Larah

 

Rocco & Larah

 

Rocco & Larah

More photo’s to come!

After seeing their photos, I had to feature Anthony and Emily’s beautifully, whimsical Nashville wedding! The attention to detail is impeccable and Michael Howard’s photos are incredible. See for yourself.

Anthony & Emily

Hit Me

Bridal Stroll

Straight Tie

Wonderland

Grand Entrance

Dip

Table Scape

Rings

Buds

Party Exit

These are the first pictures from photographer Christopher Record, the photographer from Steph & George’s wedding.  They are featured on his blog Foto Record. He’s in the blogroll now under photographers, and if you happen to live in the Davidson, NC area….I highly recommend this wonderful photographer. You’ll see for yourself but the pictures from “THE BEST WEDDING EVER” are just incredible. And these are just a few!
Enjoy! Thanks again Chris!

That’s what I told my friend Stephanie who married my friend George this past weekend at one of the most wonderful, beautiful, loving, perfect Carolina weddings I have ever witnessed.

This post is going to be a bit more unconventional, in that I’m going to let you all in on a more personal part of my world instead of critiquing and revealing the planning and the details. There’s a little bit of that here, but mostly it’s just me saying how happy I am that I was able to travel to North Carolina to see two of my favorite people get married with the most important people in their lives in attendance.

To be honest, I have never really been around in the days leading up to a wedding unless I was working or planning it. You’re not nearly as emotionally invested as you are when it’s your best friends trying to make everything perfect in time for the rehearsal dinner. I have to say it was a very stressful and chaotic experience for everyone involved (Not me, I just showed up and observed the chaos… by that time there was nothing left for me to do but watch). But people don’t do things like that if they don’t love you, and these two had a whole lot of love in the air and a whole lot of help too.

I don’t know anyone else in the world who could have dealt with the last minute stress that developed along with some very uncooperative weather as well. Plus, as long as I have known George, being prompt has never really been his strong suite. But there were other factors, and they dealt with everything so calmly that it made my head start to spin a little.

The reason this was one of the most wonderful weddings I’ve ever been to because it was so authentic and wonderful. These two have been dating for something over 6 years now. Steph you can correct me if I’m wrong… because to me it seems like you have always been together.

The bridal luncheon was so sweet, and very new for me- a southern soul stuck in a Yankee upbringing. I had never been to a bridal luncheon- different from the shower and bachelorette- where the bride thanks all those women close to her who helped in planning and participating in the wedding day. We had the beautiful back courtyard at Toast Cafe in Davidson, NC to ourselves where we laughed and cried and exchanged gifts before getting back to the craziness of the day. I think it was a much needed break for everyone.

Later that night a rehearsal dinner was given at the Harbor Club in Davidson, NC which was wonderful and full of laughter, reminiscing and speech after speech from friends and family toasting the bride and groom-to-be. I am a crier. I’m not afraid to say it, and I was waterworks that night, all night. Of course it didn’t help that a friend of ours who lives in Japan flew in and surprised the groom. Stephanie and a few others knew all about it, but I was conveniently kept in the dark, and therefore proceeded to cry in public for the next 20 minutes. Awesome. Thanks guys.

There was drinking and dancing later and it was just so wonderful to be in the company of my favorite people in the world.

The wedding was beautiful. George was literally giddy. He had the goofiest smile on his face as Steph walked down the aisle and she was actually bouncing down the aisle, she was so excited.

The brunch on Sunday was fantastic and a wonderful way to say goodbye to the huge amount of family and friends that were in town. Plus who doesn’t love to have a little helping of cheese grits before hopping on a plane back to LaGuardia…

A little rain never hurt anyone, and despite the very wet conditions at the reception, everyone made the best of it, and by the middle of dinner the sky cleared, the stars and lightning bugs came out, and it was the perfect Carolina night. Here are some highlights I’d like to share.

1. No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem -It started with people loosing their shoes early in the night and by midnight, three groomsmen lost their shirts to the theme of New York, New York. What’s a little wedding strip show? Only in the south. Or maybe in Maine… I have a funny feeling we might see a repeat of this in July…

2. Make It Rain – Yes, the dance floor was wet, there were buckets catching water at every corner of the outdoor tents, the hanging lanterns were full of water and the poor place cards were covered with garbage bags in an effort to stay dry. But no one seemed to notice. We just ditched our shoes and walked around barefoot, ordering Blue Moons from the bar and eating Grit cakes waiting for the rain to stop. And when the bride and groom were announced they came strutting in under a huge black umbrella. How cute is that?

3. Don’t Stop Believin‘- When the dj makes a mistake and plays Don’t Stop Believing by Journey instead of the song you picked out to dance with your mama to…just improvise. This was incredible. Steph danced to My Girl with her dad, and then George and his mom took the floor to some serious hootin’ and hollerin’ from the tent perimeter. By the end of the song everyone was out on the dance floor fist pumping to Journey. How great is that? It was seriously the best thing ever. Let’s get this party started!

4. Best Man speeches are really important ( And it will probably never be as good as this one)– Why not go out of the box a bit? Regular speeches are boring. My best friend, and george’s best man made the best man speech of the year. In this toast/roast to George he literally hit on everything we love about George in the most hilarious way possible. In song… I apologize for the side video…tilt your head. It won’t kill you.

5. Other Treats– The cake was visually beautiful and delicious. There was an ice cream sundae bar with do it yourself toppings, amazing appetizers traditional to the south, a delicious dinner buffet with roasted vegetables and chicken cakes and salmon and sides that just kept coming. The flowers were absolutely incredible and the pictures do not do them justice.

In short, this was the best wedding I’ve ever been to because of how much I love George & Steph and it was an incredible treat for me to be able to participate and attend in this wonderful wedding with my incredible family of friends. I am so blessed by having the unique privilege of having an incredible extended family of friends who have been, and will continue to be a major part of my life, by letting me be a part of there’s. Cheers to you guys. I love you!

So after all you max out your credit cards on three different shower centerpieces and favors, a bachelorette party, bridesmaid dress and alterations, a blender for shower #1, a toaster for shower #2, champagne flutes for shower #3, and any other miscellaneous expenses like rental cars, hotels, party favors, potted plants and therapy you just might be lucky enough to get something in return.

It is customary for the bride & groom to show their complete and utter gratitude to their devoted bridal party in gift form at the rehearsal dinner and if you can direct them to a fantastically great idea…even better. Especially given that you’re now poor.

Since you can’t ask for a credit card payment or cash or money orders the next best thing is to present some options, discreetly, as you don’t want it to see like you’re EXPECTING anything right? ha. Below are some practical bridesmaid gifts I’ve witnessed, been given and heard rave reviews on. As always please share any ideas you have for all of the other bridesmaids out there!

  • J.Crew Monogrammed Amagansett Totes
    These are bags. Don’t be fooled by their very fancy name. Very pretty, durable bags that can bear your initials if you like that sort of thing, and sometimes I do. This Spring they come in bright colors and patterns and really aren’t going to set the bride back all that much. Polka dots, stripes and the prepster madras prints come in small and medium sizes. The small bags range from $33.50 to $44.50. (Patterns determine price here) The Mediums bags range from $44.50 to $49.50.

    Polka DotsStripes

    I’ve seen them filled with everything from beach towels, printed umbrellas, baseball hats and pretty flat flip flops in the brides signature wedding color to give your feet a break post ceremony.

    ** These also make great welcome baskets for a bachelorette weekend or as welcome baskets in hotel rooms. More on that later.

  • Vineyard Vines Bags & Accessories
    Since we’re on the subject of good looking tote bags, I must mention Vineyard Vines. I love this company for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the brothers who started are rebellious self starters that did exactly what they wanted to do, and it worked. Read their story– it’s pretty amazing.They have a whole bunch of amazing products, which are also great to outfit any bridal party, specifically if you happen to be in a wedding happening very near to a body of water.Headbands, belts, flip flops, ties and tote bags…you name it and you can probably get it with whales, crabs or seahorses on it. Pretty great. Their bags are a little bit more than the J.Crew totes, but are very customizable and come in great patterns like watermelons, shamrocks, martini glasses, even breast cancer awareness ribbons. The totes range
    in price from $85 to $105.

    Vineyard Vines Classic ToteVineyard Vines Mini Tote

  • Jewelery and yes… More bags
    If you haven’t guessed, I think bags in some form or another are a great attendants gift. Jewelery is also good. I know brides who have opted to buy the jewelry they would like you to wear on their big day. I have a friend who gave each of her bridesmaids a beautiful pink Coach wristlet along with the multi-colored jewelery they wore.

    Jewelery that gives back is another great gift idea. The Green Bracelet from Red Envelope is $125, with $20 of each purchase going to the Diamond Empowerment Fund, an international non-profit organization that raises money to educate and uplift the people and communities of Africa. Plus, we think it’s really pretty. Designed by the Simmons Jewelery Company, the bracelet features native African materials, green malachite beads and a conflict free diamond loosely housed in a gold alloy cage.

    Green Bracelet

  • Monogrammed Flasks
    If you and your fellow bridesmaids occasionally like to sip on adult beverages, monogrammed flasks in pastel leather are fun AND excellent for toasting your excellent work…and of course the happy couple. They’re also really inexpensive at just about $29 each.

    Monogrammed Flasks

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